Monday, February 23, 2009

Northern Rock - a little corner turned?

I saw old Vincey-boy on BBC Breakfast this morning. He was welcoming the news of Northern Rock re-entering the mortgage lending game.

There was one piece of, what I think is, excellent news buried in a report in the Observer yesterday. I had to blink and clean my glasses and read it again twice:

Northern Rock has been able to repay more than £15bn of the £26bn in taxpayer loans it received when it was nationalised.

Blimey! It can't be doing all that badly then. And that's good news for taxpayers who were, understandably, worried that they would never see the money again.

It all shows that the nationalise/rehabilitate model for banks seems to work, as Saint Vince said it would.

Now let's see if RBS and HBoS/LloydsTSB can get back on the road to recovery. Both banks are working on plans to restructure. Both issue their 2008 figures this week, likely to be among the worst, if not the worst, in UK corporate history.

Let's hope they can now get all the toxic debt behind them and move on. But I remain of the view that both of those banks should be completely nationalised (along with all the rest, if I had my way).

A little personal postcript on RBS and HBoS/Lloyds TSB.

I made £12 on buying and selling HBoS shares in ten minutes on the day they announced merger talks with Lloyds TSB. This led me to being ribbed by colleagues for "short-selling".

Emboldened, I then bought £50 worth of RBS shares. I wouldn't sell them at a loss, so I am still a proud shareholder of RBS. I was thinking that I'd have to hold onto the shares for about 5-10 years before I could sell at a profit.

A Scottish colleague last week said that it was more likely that I'd have to leave the shares to my grandchildren for them to eventually see any benefit!

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